8 Simple Changes to Curb Your Heartburn

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Valerie Danner on July 5, 2021
  • Chest pain
    Lifestyle changes can help put out the fire.
    You know the feeling: a burning discomfort in your chest, rising up into your neck and throat. It may even leave behind a sour taste in your mouth. It's heartburn, something that more than 60 million Americans experience at least once a month. If you're one of them, there's good news: Making some simple lifestyle changes can help put out the fire.
  • Oranges
    1. Watch what you eat.
    Avoid foods and beverages that can affect the lower esophageal sphincter action, including chocolate, peppermint, tomato sauce, citrus fruits and juices, carbonated drinks, and ketchup. Drink water instead of soda, and look for pasta dishes made with light, broth-type sauces instead of heavy tomato ones.
  • French fries
    2. Put down the fried foods.
    Fatty foods especially can cause heartburn. Foods that are high in fat take longer to digest. That means food stays in your stomach longer and has a greater chance of causing you discomfort. Opt for lower fat options, such as white meat instead of dark, or a slice of angel food cake instead of ice cream for dessert.
  • Bowl of food
    3. Pay attention to your portion sizes.
    Heartburn is more likely to occur when you overeat. An over-stuffed tummy increases the pressure in your stomach, which can cause stomach acid to push back up the esophagus. So pay attention to your body's signals when you're full, or eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Couple sitting on sofa with wine
    4. Limit the alcohol you drink to prevent producing more acid in the stomach.
    Not only can drinking alcohol produce more acid in the stomach, but it can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easier for that acid to flow backward. Instead, have just one mixed drink with your meal, or reach for the white wine instead of the red.
  • Joggers
    5. Lose weight to limit the upward flow of acid.
    Add heartburn to the list of conditions that can be eased by losing extra pounds. Obesity increases pressure on your abdomen, which can cause acid to flow upward.
  • Woman smoking
    6. Stop smoking.
    Cigarettes contain chemicals that can weaken your lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Woman organizing clothes
    7. Wear loose clothing to reduce pressure.
    Choose clothes that aren't tight-fitting around your abdomen. Restrictive clothes and belts can squeeze your stomach, forcing food to reflux.
  • Woman getting food from refrigerator
    8. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
    Lying down after eating causes your stomach contents to press harder on the lower esophageal sphincter. Eating increases the stomach's acid content as well. Refrain from eating two to three hours before turning in for the night.
8 Simple Changes to Curb Your Heartburn

About The Author

  1. Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/
  2. The Word on GERD. American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gerd/word.asp
  3. Heartburn. American Gastroenterological Association. http://www.gastro.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=848
  4. Alcohol Consumption and Heartburn. National Heart Burn Alliance. http://www.heartburnalliance.org/alcohol_and_heartburn.php
  5. Heartburn - Smart Choices when Eating Out. National Heart Burn Alliance. http://www.heartburnalliance.org/eating_out.php
  6. Heartburn. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003114.htm 
  7. GERD. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gerd.html#cat1
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 5
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.